[nycbug-talk] development/IP/opensource/freesource articles

george at rob.us.to george
Thu Jun 2 12:34:09 EDT 2005

Two open/free source related articles below: ying and yang, FSF and 
Open Source, Free Software/Society and Access to Knowledge



The Free Software Free Society Conference held at
Thiruvananthapuramduring May 28-29 adopted a declaration that called
upon the socialand political institutions to eliminate systems that
hinder thedevelopment of the gnowledge society (see www.gnowledge.org).


The Thiruvananthapuram Declaration

May 29, 2005

We are currently living in a world that is increasingly getting interconnected
and the issues of our concern are becoming global. Along the way, new
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) transformed the process of
knowledge construction and dissemination in our society. This process is
transforming other fields of human creativity as well ?   including music,
painting or writing. Human history is calling us to take note of this change.
Creative works today live in a digital world, travel at the speed of light, get
transformed in seconds, become part of several other creations, and grow in a
number of other ways.

As society transforms drastically, we ?   students, engineers, IT
professionals, social activists, lawyers, elected public representatives, media
persons, film-makers and concerned citizens ?   urge our world to take note of
the immense potential opening up for humanity, and to ensure that technology is
harnessed in the needs of the time to tackle the wider concerns of our planet.

Free Software has convincingly demonstrated to the world we know that knowledge
building is enhanced by freedom, openness and social consciousness; and that
such features are very effective in creating a fairer society and enhance the
cause of the social good.

In the new networked and digitized society, the intangible (non-materialistic)
aspects of reality are becoming more important in comparison with the material
ones. Several years of material-centered development has not helped humanity to
create a better world for all; or even for the majority on this planet.

To face the challenges of the day, we need a new model of development centered
around non material aspects of life ?   including collaboration, sharing, and
compassion. Such a society is evolving today on the foundations of freedom,
collaboration and shared knowledge.

We call it the gnowledge society (see http://www.gnowledge.org).

In our view, the gnowledge society will and must prefer:

freedom over bondage; sharing over monopoly; public good over private profit;
participation over exclusion; cooperation over competition; diversity over

We find that patent, copyright and other legal and institutional systems
related to human knowledge are not suitable for the development of the
gnowledge society. These systems were created during the industrial revolution,
and then continued in spite of major changes in how technology shapes our
lives. These systems were not designed for, and therefore cannot cater to, the
emerging gnowledge society. For the development of human society, it is
imperative that we promote the collaborative development and free sharing of

Such principles are not only consistent with, but even mandated by, the spirit
of human rights as defined by the present legal system.

We, the participants at the Free Software, Free Society conference in
Thiruvananthapuram underline the following:

We call upon the social and political institutions to eliminate systems that
hinder the development of the gnowledge society.

We demand that every human being works for a more fair distribution of
knowledge for all, and for a world based on knowledge sharing and

Agreed upon in Thiruvananthapuram, South India, amongst the participants at the
Free Software, Free Society Conference, by participants from the countries of:



An OK to A2K

Kaye Stearman reports on the progress towards a draft treaty on Access
to Knowledge ? A2K.

In September 2004 an expert group of academics, educators,
representatives of libraries, consumer organisations, the open source
movement and others gathered in Geneva to discuss reform the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The meeting laid down a
challenge to WIPO to reform rules relating to intellectual property
(IP), such as copyright and patents. The problem is that the balance of
some IP rules have shifted too far towards the protection of
rights-holders, and removed the traditional rights of users.

A major problem was how to provide wider access to knowledge, especially
for poorer consumers in developing countries. A second meeting in Geneva
in February 2005 determined that the world needed a new treaty, or at
least principles, to redress this imbalance as part of a `development
agenda?. Led by the Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech), an expert
group began drafting a Treaty on Access to Knowledge

A third meeting convened at Queen Mary College in London on 12-13 May
2005 to take the draft forward. Of around one hundred participants
around half were academic or legal experts, and half represented
consumer and user groups. A substantial minority came from developing
countries, including Brazil, India, Kenya, Malaysia South Africa and
Zimbabwe. All were keen to listen, learn and argue points of law and

Felix Cohen, Vice-President of Consumers International, declared the
meeting open and gave a brief account of what the gathering hoped to
accomplish. After introductions the first sessions began by considering
the Preamble, Objectives and Purposes as laid out in the draft treaty.
Speaker after speaker delivered their views - a few at length but most
in a crisp and succinct manner. Inevitably, the focus was on the areas
of contention and disagreement. Even so, few pieces of text escaped
comment or analysis.

After the opening session the meeting considered the detailed provisions
laid out in each of the sections of the draft treaty. The process
continued relentlessly over the two days - each session driven by
pressures from the chairs, urging speakers to be pointed in their
assessments and short in their speech. It is a tribute to the chairs
that the analysis was completed on time and recorded in every detail.

The term ?Access to Knowledge? is a simple and positive slogan to bring
together many concerns about the current rules and trends in IP.
However, by the end of the meeting, even the most fastidious legal
brains had started to use the shorter and trendier ?A2K?. Despite the
cold May weather, many participants joined Ben Wallis from the
TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) in sporting a brightly coloured
tee shirt festooned with A2K slogans,. It shows that, despite
disagreements about details, the A2K concept is something that everyone
can agree on.

So where does the draft Treaty go from here? The next step will be to
incorporate all the amendments, additions, omissions and other suggested
changes to produce a new draft that will be circulated to meeting
participants for final comments. When this has been completed, the draft
can be presented to governments and promoted around the world, maybe
even at the WIPO General Assembly in September 2005. Ultimately, it is
hoped that the treaty, or at least the ideas that are driving it, will
be adopted and ratified by WIPO, and incorporated into national laws and
a modern way of looking at intellectual property.

Many thanks to the Rockerfeller Foundation, the Open Society Institute
and the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation for their financial
support of the event, and to the Queen Mary IP Research Institute for
hosting the meeting at their Mile End campus.

For further information contact Ben Wallis at TACD at:
bwallis at consint.org or look on www.cptech.org/a2k

   Kaye Stearman, Consumers International, 2005.


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